Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

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Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby TheGreatJoeGargery » Fri, 16Jul01 20:36

I was encouraged to start a thread in this forum regarding something I posted in the Betsy thread in the Sexy Game forum. I was originally going to let the topic go since I had said all I needed to say regarding the topic but since then I got a few pm's regarding it so the interest seemed to be there. I will post my thoughts here and you can agree or disagree with me as you will.

During a conversation about a game, a comment was made that the game we were discussing was not a "meet, say nice things, and have sex" type of game and that it was a good thing. Now the author that was being praised for not making "meet, say nice things, and have sex" type of game has a LOT of games that would be considered to be "meet, say nice things, and have sex" type games on his game development resume. In fact, he has a lot of what I consider to be VERY GOOD games that happen to be "meet, say nice things, and have sex" type of games. Which got me thinking, does a good game require a good story? In addition, does a game that has a good story automatically make it a good game?

I started thinking of other games. The games I thought of were considered to be high quality games due to their high quality stories. I don't dispute these were well crafted stories by talented writers. When I thought of these games though I noticed that the story actually hindered the game. The main character was often dragged through the game in a very linear fashion with little choice on the outcome. Sometimes the player wasn't even the main character, but a side character in someone else's game. The story revolved around the player helping someone else out and the criteria for "winning the game" was for that other character to complete their goals. The stories were great but in order to tell those stories the developers had to severely restrict what the player could do in the game.

Right now I'll stop here and explain what I define as a good game. I know tastes vary and judging art can be very subjective, but there are some objective things that define a medium that can be examined. For most stories, plots and themes can be broken down and analyzed, use of characters and so on and so forth. For me the defining quality of a game is that it can be played. There is some level of choice and some level of consequence for those choices. This goes for all games, not just video games. Even games of pure chance that depend on dice rolls will have some kind of activity before or after the dice rolls, such as betting, to give you some amount of agency over the game. So for me a good game requires a large amount of player participation and some amount of player agency, or having the player able to make decisions on the outcome (or failing that, having agency over the consequences of the outcome). So even in a game of Craps when the outcome is totally determined by the random roll of the dice, you can still decide how much you bet and have some control over the consequences, be them good or bad.

For me player agency is a fundamental part of any game and an important metric for how it is judged as being good or bad. I look at how much I can affect the outcome of the game and my experience while playing the game. But now we narrow down our focus to video games. Video games combine game with an interactive experience. That experience is designed to make the player feel something. In the broad sense this feeling is enjoyment, but the enjoyment is often because the player is simulating something he wants to be or wants to do. In a first person shooter, I want to be an unstoppable soldier, mowing down waves of enemy combatants. However, if the game is too easy, I don't get that feeling because I am not challenged to do this. If it is too hard, I get frustrated and I again don't get that feeling (or have to work extremely hard to get that feeling then I have to assess if the amount of work put in is worth that feeling). But if the challenge is just right I get that feeling. I am making choices in the game. I am prioritizing targets, choosing when to use my resources like grenades, and basically living my action hero fantasy from the game play. If the game has cut scenes then great, but it is the game play that is making me feel what I want to feel.

Almost any piece of entertainment is designed to make you feel something. Comedies are designed to make you laugh. Tragedies are designed to make you cry. Most entertainment uses stories to make you feel these things. You can think of the story as the delivery package for the emotion. The thing is most forms of entertainment don't have what video games have. That something is direct interaction with the consumer of the entertainment. The player is an active participant, not a passive observer. You can use the interaction between the player and the game to fulfill what a story normally does. This brings me to my central point...

A good story does not make a good game.

Like I said above, games are fundamentally interactive. I play a game to interact with it. If I want a good story I read a book or watch a movie. So even if I have the best story in the world, if I make a movie and use narration the whole movie and I don't convey what I want to convey in that visual medium, I have a bad movie. I still have a great story, but I have a bad movie.

So what I think designers should focus on when making a game is deciding on what emotion they want their players to feel. For those of us who enjoy erotic games, it is often a sexual fantasy. We want to corrupt the good girl, go on a date with a hot girl where anything is possible, seduce the boss, seduce our secretary, seduce the neighbor's wife and so on and so forth. So does this mean if you forgo the story and just cram your game with as much nudity and sex as possible? Absolutely not. Like the first person shooter, there is no fun if there is no challenge. You still have to provide the player with a challenge. In fact, providing a challenge is even more important without a story.

Also I am not saying that writing is not important. Writing is VERY important. Bad writing is a definite deal breaker for me in games. It is just that writing doesn't have to be for a story. It could be to make characters that the player can interact with. Characters that will make the player feel what the author wants them to feel without dragging them through a linear narrative.

I will give you an example of what I mean. It is the most overused example I give in all my threads, but I'll use it anyway. The example is Date Ariane. It has absolutely no plot but it has a very well written main character and the entire game is interacting with that character. The game is fun and I fulfill my fantasy of going on a date with a fun, sexy, confident woman where anything could happen. Great game and no story. And I never feel like I am being dragged through the story like I'm on a bus tour, with someone at the front of the bus holding a megaphone pointing out the scenery along the way.

I give an example of a game with no story, but that doesn't mean that I don't want story in games. It is not necessary, but it can elevate games. Just make sure that the story does not get in the way of the game. I want to play a game. Sometimes the story will need to take a back seat to that. At times it may hurt to dial back the story for the game. It is like when a director of a movie has to cut their favorite scene because it interferes with the pacing of the movie and doesn't add anything to the overall narrative. Sometimes you have to do it though.

If you want an example of a game that has a story and fulfills all my criteria for being a good game I would give Brad's Erotic Week. The game has a complex story and it is all done through interaction with the characters. The story does not interfere with the game at all. I have a multitude of choices to make in the game and the story does not prevent me from making them. I know BEW is is an incredibly ambitious project, but I would love to see smaller games that are inspired by BEW to become a trend.

For those of you out there making free games for all of us to enjoy, I say thank you. Also, make the games you want to make. But if you make the game you want to make and someone tries to make you feel inferior by saying "it's just a meet and fuck game", don't let it affect you. Don't force story into games that don't need it and don't make your games into the erotic game version of "Oscar Bait" where you make something that superficially tries to think of itself as elevated above all those "meet and fuck" games out there. A well made "meet and fuck" game is a well made game period and a bad "meet and fuck" game is similarly a bad game. They are not all bad games by default. Authors of the linear story driven game may not realize that their game may not be as superior to yours as they think.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby tlaero » Fri, 16Jul01 23:28

First of all, it's completely fine that you don't like my games. Everyone has different tastes, and there's nothing wrong with yours being different than mine. To that end, though, me saying "Chaotic, I liked that you made a game like this" shouldn't be less valid than you saying, "Chaotic, I think you should have made the game differently." Positive feedback and negative feedback are two sides of the same coin, and both can be useful.

I disagree with your premise, but I'll say again, that doesn't mean that you're wrong. It just means that you and I have different tastes. There's nothing wrong with that and, even though this is the internet, there doesn't need to be any kind of conflict or drama related to us liking different things.

To me, games are a story telling medium. I play a lot of them, and the part I appreciate the most is the storytelling. As I look back on games I played, it's rare that I think fondly about some aspect of gameplay or agency (although that does happen occasionally) but I frequently reflect on story elements in games I've played. And, some have stuck with me for a very long time, all the way back to Floyd dying in Stationfall when I was a kid. I know that there are wildly differing opinions on this, and again, I don't have any problem with that. Diversity in opinion is a good thing. Back when I played MMORPGs I used to have conversations with people about this and that aspect of a quest that I really liked. I loved the history of the world, the explanation for why they were sending me out to do the things they had me do, and how it fit into the greater narrative of the game. Other people would say things like, "Are you talking about the text that I have to scroll through to find out what I need to do next?" I liked the story. These people liked leveling up. We both liked the same game. No problem.

To me, games are a wonderful storytelling medium. It is my opinion that the recent Xbox game "Quantum Break" is the best Time Travel story I've ever experienced anywhere. Better than the good time travel movies and tv shows I've watched and better than the great time travel novels and short stories I've read. My favorite games ever are probably the Mass Effect series, but it's the story, not the gameplay that sticks with me. Same with the Bioshock games. The gameplay in Infinity was solid, but the story was excellent. I'm the kind of person who takes 20 hours to go through a 10 hour single player campaign because I'm looking for every scrap of content, every audio log and pamphlet in the game. Don't get me wrong, I like the shooting sections. But I'm in it for the story. And I'll remember it for the story.

I'm neither unique nor the majority in this regard. In most games more time is spent in PvP than in the campaign. And, generally, there's no story in PvP (Titanfall tried, but I found it lacking).

I started writing erotic games because I felt that there wasn't enough story being told in them. They weren't meeting my needs. And, just as you encourage people to trade off story for agency, I encourage them to improve their stories. It's not that I feel that I'm somehow superior and that they need to be like me if they want to be good. It's that I want people to make games that I like to play, and I'm encouraging them to do so. That's the same thing you're doing. You just want something different than I do.

I highly doubt that Chaotic put more story in Betsy because he was looking for my approval. And I'm sure that developers aren't going to start cramming stories into all of their games in some mistaken desire to follow me. But, if a few developers play some story-driven games and say, "I really enjoyed that, I should try doing something like that myself," I'm cool with that. I was similarly inspired by Ariane to make games, and she's said that she's enjoyed the games I've made. In the same vein, I should be allowed to enjoy Chaotic's more story-driven Betsy, regardless of why he chose to deepen the story in it.

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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby tlaero » Sat, 16Jul02 00:09

And that brings us to agency. You're absolutely right that agency and story are at odds. But the reason why may not be obvious. Agency and story only conflict because of time.

For a given team, the number of game pages they can create in a set amount of time is pretty much fixed. Let's consider a reasonably typical team that can produce 1000 pages in 4 months.

In the end, agency comes down to user choice. And, realistically, if the choice is meaningful, it results in multiple paths through the game. So, take the team that could produce 1000 pages in 4 months of development. They could produce a completely linear game that is 1000 pages long. Or they could add one choice in the game which provides two paths, each 500 pages long. Or they could have 3 choices for four 250 page paths. 9 choices, 100 pages per path. Etc. Agency of just 9 choices makes the story 1/10 as complex.

There's another alternative. They could have two choices with a 1000 page story, and take 8 months to produce it. Or, 9 choices with a 1000 page story and take 40 months to produce it.

There's some fudge factor here where you don't have full paths. Maybe they branch and join back up, but that's pretty unsatisfying in the agency aspect. If in the game you're give a choice to go 3 places for a date, but then later in the game you go on another date and it's a choice between the two places you didn't already go, and the gameplay in those dates are the same as they would have been if you had done them on the first night, then the agency is a lie. If, on the other hand, the way the date happens changes depending on which order you did it in, then it's new pages and cost (in the time sense) as much as writing completely new scenes.

There's also some fudge factor in that a choice could come later in the game, so the paths aren't full dividers. But that means the player has to keep replaying the early content in order to see the later options. Some people like doing that. Others don't.

So, yes, agency either makes the story less involved or requires that the game takes longer to produce. In your two examples, Ariane took the former approach and Wolf is taking the latter. I love both games. I consider Ariane to be the creator of the genre I work in. And I've been very clear about my high opinion of Wolf. But it should be obvious that, even with these pillars of the community, this tradeoff is happening. Agency and story complexity are at odds, and any developer no matter how skilled, needs to find a balance between them that lets him or her create the game he or she wants to create.

There is actually a 3rd choice as well, and it's the one I use. People frequently tell me that they want the choice to date multiple characters in my games. But, as much as I love and respect Wolf, that's not the choice I make for my games. If I can make a game where you date one character in 6 months, then, yes, in a year I could make a game where you date two characters. OR I could make two separate games 6 months apart. I know that it's not strictly "agency" to make the choice, "Do I play Dreaming with Elsa or Redemption for Jessika" but that's essentially what I'm having players do. You've been very clear that you don't like that style, and, again, that's fine. Fortunately, there are people making games that you do like just as there are people who like the games I make. Diversity is good.

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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby MaxCarna » Sat, 16Jul02 02:08

That's a really good discussion

I'm an apprentice, trying to bring pieces together to make my very first game, but I'm a player for many many years. I think there is room for all kind of game styles, yourself can want different styles on different moments. Some games offer an immersive experience, where you enter into the story and want to know what happens next. This kind of game require time, free mind, serenity... There are games very chalenging, you need to think a lot, quickly react on events, need constant focus. But sometimes after an exaustive day of work, I just want to sit and relax, distract your mind. And, of course, for some users, with the same intention that they watch a porno movie. I believe that were many key aspects, besides the history and the interaction. For example, how you are inserted in the game? First person, third person, is the easy way to see, but already exists a personality present for your character? Or is just you and your reactions? Can you build your character over time?

I think the first time I got interested in games where you could go after conquering girls was in the Larry's series from Sierra Games. Larry 7 was released in 1996 I guess. The character was already built, the focus was go after girls. Them there was SimGirls, I met about on 2002, where you could build your character's physical status (strenght, charm and inteligence) together with your relation status with three different girls. Both games you could play for many days. Dating Ariane in 2006 was something totally different, very challenging, a very rich decision tree, each turn was quickly but you need to play several times to achieve something. When you did it you wish to show to your friends, to see if they could do it too. I would really like to play any game that looks like one of those 3. I don't know when Meet and fuck started to make their games, but i think them great to distract you from your day without asking much of you. Newgrounds adult games show me many interesting games. Them I found Wet Pussy and Horny Gamer.

I found Shark's Laggoon Games on Horny Gamer. The spread of 3D brought other interesting authors like Lessons of Passion and V-date Games. They led me to PlayForceOne where I found the most immersive and profound games from Tlaero and its partners. Dreaming with Elsa, for example, what a brilliant idea of the character communicating by dreams. In the middle of all the beautiful 3D graphics, the dream with shadows in two dimensions, it was fantastic. Those games were the ultimate in erotic quality I have ever seen in games. All these 3D games have a profile, you play for a few hours, gets completely disconnected from the world, but after reaching the best end, you don't play anymore.

One interesting alternative is games in several releases. evolving versions. You are always playing again just to see whats is new. Lately I'm seeing a lot of independent games, sometimes with very poor graphics, but very creative. I like to visit Games of Desires daily, just to see if something different and interesting pops out. I think Patreon is the reason for many of those games exists. Brad's Erotic Week is a good example where the release versions system married a quality 3D game, one day for each release was a good ideia. Two games I've been following were "Elana, Champion of Lust" and "Breeding Season Alpha". I like to see the game getting deeper and image quality evolving.

Gathering everything I've seen, I think my best game is something between SimGirls and Tlare productions. As it does not exist, I'll try to develop one myself. I will try to make a first playable scenario, with a short history and a base map, where you can made decisions to improve yourself and chat with a few characters to get sex scenes, all using Daz render images.

To make a big and complex decision tree, its really hard, I never found something good as Dating Ariane in this matter. I don't think Brad's Erotic Week has many decisions like that, but is a great game for sure. In the matter of interesting histories that bring you into the game, Tlaero, Mortze... games are my reference right now. Many people don't like Meet and Fuck games because of plain histories, but I think they are good to create sensual moves. Sometimes 3D games fail miserably to create sensual movements. I would give a trophy for those who put a move Meet and Fuck style in a quality 3d game.

I'm sorry if I miss the point, I think that making example from other games helps to define what we are aiming.

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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby shark » Sat, 16Jul02 06:31

This discussion is very interesting and I'm sad that my knowledge of English is insufficient to participate.
I just want to say that for me, eroticism is created by the situation more than the action and the erotic situations are created by the story and the characters behavior.
I receive a lot of request and proposals to create new games and each time, they are stories and situations that are proposed, rarely gameplays or specific sexual activities.
For me, a game should be like a movie with a good story and a good end. Interactivity is just a way for the player to feel that he/she participates in the story.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby TheGreatJoeGargery » Sat, 16Jul02 08:39

I hope you don't think I'm singling you out tlaero because I'm not. Your post in the Betsy thread was just the catalyst for me to respond to something I've seen countless times on various forums and blogs. I think you're a very talented storyteller. In fact if I remember correctly I commented in the Redemption For Jessika blog that despite the game being linear and completely contrary to what I normally like that I played it anyway on the strength of the story alone.

I think I should also probably define my terms a little better as well. When I say that games don't need story, I am specifically referring to plot. From what I read, I think everyone already picked up on that but I want to avoid confusion for anyone entering the conversation.

I'm a Bioware fan as well and I did enjoy Mass Effect, but my Bioware game of choice has always been Dragon Age. I was upset when they came out with the Dragon Age Keep because it only had ten save slots, and I had over 20 different Characters from all the Dragon Age Origins/Awakenings playthroughs I had. I tried every conceivable way of going through that game and tried out all the options. My question with Mass Effect is, would you be ok with an option in the game to skip combat and progress to the next cutscene?

My issue is that I constantly see stories without developed plots being looked down on, with the term "meet and fuck games" being thrown around in a derogatory sense when referring to these games. The effect this has is that people seem to think that since this is "only a meet and fuck game" and that there doesn't need to be as much effort put into it as a game with a developed plot. This has resulted in a lot of low quality "meet and fuck" games out there which then furthers the stereotype that "meet and fuck games" are not as good as story driven games. My wish is that the authors of the "meet and fuck games" will experiment with different game mechanics for their games and improving on the parts that make them great. If they feel that their games are catering to the lowest common denominator then that will not happen.

Like I'm sure you are aware, I loved Date Ariane. What frustrates me is that while everyone seems to have played it, nobody has taken the next step with it. I thought the game mechanic of Ariane keeping track of four statistics (Nice, Sexy, Funny and Smart, with the added quasi stat of how much she had to drink also effecting her) was genius. If you're smart and not sexy, there are small variations on how Ariane will respond to you for example. You also have to be careful to balance your responses. If you're too nice she friendzones you. If you're too sexy she thinks you're a sex crazed pervert. For me it was almost like playing a resource management game. It was just one game mechanic with one very well written character and I found it more engrossing than an entire crafted story. I understand that branching paths through games are very labor intensive but I'm not asking anyone to reinvent the wheel. What I would like to see has already been accomplished. I would be happy with someone who takes what has already been done and give it a tweak or a different spin. Then someone else take what they made and give it another tweak or spin, and so on and so forth. What I am not seeing is an evolution of this type of game, only stagnation. Often game authors will make this type of game, then "graduate" to more story focused games. I'm not asking anyone to make a game on the insane level that Wolfe is trying to make. In fact for me the simpler the better. A good game mechanic and a well written character to interact with is all I need. That good game mechanic is very hard to come by. Often any game mechanics at all are hard to come by. But if you now were to put a developed plot into that game it would become immensely complicated and yes, it would be a development nightmare like you mentioned. My whole point is that it doesn't have to be that complicated. Leave the story out, it is not needed.

Often when I play story driven games I find that the creator is too wrapped up in telling the story to engage me in playing the game. I was playing one game a little while ago and thinking "my god, if I made a drinking game for every time this game told me I was in love with this girl I would be flat on my back on the floor in under 10 minutes." The thing was that the story had to clip along to keep the pacing so the character's relationship kind of got left behind. The story told me how I felt but it didn't make me feel it through interaction of the player through my character with the girl. The story became more important than the game at that point.

Again, my definition of playing a game is that the interaction between the player and the game should be what is engaging me emotionally. If it has to tell me how I am feeling I feel it is failing as a game. If that same story was then put into a book then I would have no issues. Books describe to the reader what is happening, it is what they do. Games engage by interacting with the player. Telling a story in a game is just fine. Telling a story in a game without engaging the player through interaction should make the developer at least consider if they want to tell that story in a different way.
Last edited by TheGreatJoeGargery on Sat, 16Jul02 15:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby TheGreatJoeGargery » Sat, 16Jul02 09:08

In case anyone is wondering exactly what a Date Ariane evolution would look like, here is my post from another thread. The thread i posted this in was talking about how much I hated Role Playing Game type statistic grinding. I really hate talking in the abstract and I like giving concrete examples of what I am saying and thinking. I also realize how hypocritical it is of me to criticize the ideas of others without at least providing my ideas to criticize. So here is something I think would be a good idea. Pick it apart as you will.

The full concept of this idea is to be kind of like what Wolfe is doing, adding to his game one chapter at a time, but the advantage is that since you're not telling a story and just adding either a girl or a location to your game each update you are under a lot less pressure to release content in a timely manner. This just talks about the mechanics of the game though, which is important for our discussion. No story is needed for this concept, just a bunch of well written characters.

In short it's Brad's Erotic Week with the story removed but Date Ariane's game mechanics added.

TheGreatJoeGargery wrote:I'd actually like statistics to follow a resource management path myself, where you have to manage four different categories and keep them within certain parameters. Going back to the Date Ariane example, say you have 4 statistics. Well, actually you don't have 4 statistics but the girl you're talking to keeps track of 4 statistics of how they perceive you. All start at 0. They are Nice, Sexy, Smart and Funny. When you pick a dialogue selection that's a nice, non sexual remark you get a point in nice. However if you get too many points in nice then you lose by entering the friend zone. If you pick a response with some sexual innuendo, you get a point in sexy. If you go too far in sexy then the girl just thinks you're a sex crazed lunatic and you lose the game (or just that particular girl). And so on and so fourth. Now you may be able to unlock different scenarios by having different combinations. If you are smart and funny (because you have a lot of points in smart and funny and not many in sexy and nice) you may have a different sexual encounter than if you're smart and sexy.

Now in Date Ariane there was only one girl but you could use this system for a game with multiple girls, where each girl keeps track of a separate score based on the conversations you had with that specific girl. Each girl could have different tolerances. One girl may really like funny guys while another hates them. If you wanted to you could start the game with a few points to buy some qualities. So at the start of the game, you could choose to buy the Good Looking quality, which raises the ceiling on your statistics (making the woman a bit more forgiving since you're so darn good looking) or the Perceptive quality which allows you to see your statistics totals (normally they would be invisible). The Charismatic trait may allow you to see the tolerances of each girl. You might not even have to buy the statistics, but they could be given as rewards after unlocking certain combinations of achievements and you can get the qualities when you start a new game. Then each playthrough gets easier and cuts down on the monotony.

Now to make the possible combinations even more complex, you could have ways of shifting a girl's tolerances in the game. A girl's tolerance to Funny may increase if she's had a few drinks or is in a nightclub, where Funny and Sexy would be ideal in that location. So instead of impressing the stern librarian with your smarts and taking her to see a foreign independent film, you can instead take her to a nightclub and get a few drinks in her to lighten her up and get her to let her hair down. Or if you are more interested in a BDSM type scenario you won't want any points in Funny and instead want a high total in Smart (so you are intimidatingly smart) with a some Sexy (so she wants you) and Nice (so she trusts you enough to know you are not a total psycho) and get her to a a more punk or industrial themed dance club.

In short, I want to be able to shift the dating game to a strategy/resource management type game and away from a Role Playing Game. I want to play the game for the entire game, not just grind statistics until I maxed out and then eventually play the game at the end.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby moskys » Sat, 16Jul02 11:03

In my opinion, problem here is we are talking about tastes and, even more, about the way this genre is evolving (mainly on this forum), so it's not a black or white issue, and there's no reason to be angry or feeling attacked. I agree with almost everything TheGreatJoeGargery is saying in his posts: a game is to be played, a story is to be told. But a good meet'n'fuck game without plot, as legendary Ariane, is itself restricted to a minimum scenario, which would result 'boring' for many people on the long run. I mean, it's fun to explore different options to pick up a girl, but in the end is just picking up a girl. You can change her look, her attitude or the environment of the dates, you can choose if she's a stranger or your coworker or whatever, but in the end it will be always the same game (which of course still can result in a good game... or a bad one, it just depends on the creator's ability). Once again, I'm not saying this is something bad: probably, if we apply the pure concept of gaming to this genre, the perfect game would be something like that, with multiple paths and posible outcomes depending on your choices given a certain character's restrictions. But I also feel it's a very limited universe: as first person shooters, you can be fighting against aliens, nazis or zombies, but it's just you shooting. And when it comes to create a new game, I think it's difficult to see what you can add to that. You have to think as a real game developer, and I think most of us don't have that mentality, even if we are regular players. The same way a good reader won't neccesary be a good writer, a random good player is not a good game creator by default.

So people seem to have chosen another path to develop this genre. And it's more about telling a whole story, giving the player just a few options to make an impact on it (and not just because a matter of time and trade offs, although that's an important point). I'm not sure if that's exactly the way it works, but I think creators got an idea, a situation which can result in some sex, and write a story (the perfect path), and then add some branches leading to alternative endings. I assume this is something easier to do and allows them to create something they feel new and personal, telling stories or showing fantasies they already had in mind. Thus result in more and more visual novels or story-driven games, and many of them would work quite well even without the 'gaming options', because they're mainly just a narrative work. I recognize myself wondering about some ideas and trying to put them on paper with the difuse goal of getting them into games, just to realize I was just writing a short novel from scratch. And I think this a common process nowadays in this forum, catalyzed for some good 'games' with plot, like Tlaero's.

So yes, maybe it's not the ideal evolution for a gaming genre, but I also feel it's a way that allows more people to get on board. And, as Tlaero suggested in the Betsy thread, I really encourage TheGreatJoeGargery to make his own game, or collaborate with someone's, as I think he has a very interesting approach - one I feel we're lacking of.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby Mortze » Sat, 16Jul02 15:14

I don’t think there is much room for debate here. What TheGreatJoeGargery said is that he thinks that “Meet and Fuck” (MnF) games can be great games. Of course they can. For 2 sets of reasons:
1/ Anything can be great if there is enough investment, intuition and innovation by its creator. Look at Angry Birds. It fits its purpose well. It is entertaining, it is fun. It is successful.
2/ And secondly, it will be a great game if it does all that and for the right consumer.
As GreatJoe (for short) said, HE likes to have more interactivity, to have several outcomes and paths, to feel immersed in the game, to be part of it. That’s totally alright. It’s his tastes. Tlaero has different tastes, and I have different tastes. That’s the beauty of being human.

GreatJoe tells us that he isn’t much for more linear games, where the character is more directed and not as free. Again, his tastes.

And tastes aren’t debatable.

Plus, this discussion is like debating that doing paintball with friends can also be great compared to reading a novel. MnF games and Storytelling driven games (like Tlaero’s and what I try to do also) fulfill different goals. The former is purely for the player to feel in power of everything and, in a way, write the story himself with his actions. The latter is a story told by the creator.
I do try separating both by describing my games. I make visual novels with a certain level of interactivity, not full games. I believe Tlaero does the same. Right, you do win or lose depending on your choices. After all, calling it games is just nomenclature. Cambridge dictionary tells us that a game is “an entertaining activity or sport, especially oneplayed by children, or the equipment needed for such an activity”.
I do remember fondly, and try to replicate, the entertainment I had playing/reading/whatever the books where you were the adventurer and had to choose your path and face different outcomes. Was it a game? A book? The fact is that, in the end, I was totally driven by the plot. I couldn’t decide “Fuck that princess in the tower, I’m going to get wasted at the tavern, and fuck some whores”! No, I had to do my best to enter the tower and rescue the gal. My choices were in how I’d do it; either by battling the monsters at the front door, or the monsters in the sewer. And it entertained me as hell!

Fact is, in the end, that there is always room for MnF games to be great and plot-driven games to be weak. It will always depend on the level of commitment and inspiration of the creator and also on the motivation of the player.

Some truly acclaimed games in this forum, for instance, don’t appeal to me, at all. And some more obscure ones I find superb. But that is entirely subjective. What drives me to repeat and repeat a game gladly is totally different from what drives GreatJoe, or Tlaero, or whoever.
I try most and every game promoted here and in PlayForce One, and I must say that most I enjoy are the ones that are plot-driven. I can’t remember the times I replayed Coffee for Keisha, Meeting Keeley or GtKChristine. Tlaero has always mastered the balance between superb and immersing writing with mild, not too hard, challenge to advance the story.

I do not want to sound biased because she’s my partner in crime. Those feelings were there way before I met her, at a time when I believed Tlaero and Phreaky were 2 genius and perverted men. I could count on 1 hand only other creators that appealed to me.
I find that Arizona and Palmer are a bottle of fresh air regarding my tastes for this kind of entertainment.
Sure, they are all creators that make plot-driven games, instead of MnF but, as I start saying, it’s all a matter of personal tastes and motivation.

And that isn’t debatable.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby TheGreatJoeGargery » Sat, 16Jul02 15:23

moskys wrote: But a good meet'n'fuck game without plot, as legendary Ariane, is itself restricted to a minimum scenario, which would result 'boring' for many people on the long run.


I actually believe the exact opposite is true. A story CAN lock you into a certain scenario. You always have to follow the story. If you replay the game you STILL have to follow the story. Without the story you could let character interaction take you in a multitude of directions. Each play through has the potential to be a completely different scenario and a completely different experience if the is written correctly. When you add the story, even choices in the game will make most choices a variation of the same story. I am still stuck with a single scenario.

I'll give my two main points in bold. I'm not yelling at you with the bold, I'm just using it's intended purpose of highlighting important information. I just think I need to clarify what I am saying.

I feel the story should always be in service to the game, not the game to the story. I am not advocating never making games with story or plot.

and my second, probably more controversial point

The interaction with the game is how the game communicates with the player. It is this interaction that engages the player. A good story can compliment this but the story should never impede the interaction between the player and the game.

Tlaero brought up the game Mass Effect. If I recall correctly, the last game in the series was heavily criticized for the ending, as it railroaded people into a single ending (or three color coded variations of the ending) and didn't take into account the multitude of choices that the players had to make throughout the previous three games. The story there again took a back seat to player agency and there was a huge backlash towards it from the player community. It's another example of what I am saying. People became upset when their interactions with the game turned out to be meaningless.
Last edited by TheGreatJoeGargery on Sat, 16Jul02 16:14, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby TheGreatJoeGargery » Sat, 16Jul02 16:07

Mortze wrote: TheGreatJoeGargery said


Hi Mortze. You can just call me Joe if you want to simplify things. It's not my real name, but it is a play off of the character Joe Gargery from Dicken's novel Great Expectations. It's also how I feel about that particular character.

We can agree to disagree and I am defiantly not telling anyone to stop playing games they enjoy or to stop making games they enjoy making. All I am trying to do is to get an idea into the community that some may choose to incorporate into future games. All I want is for game developers to look at their games and ask "am I engaging the player into the game as well as I could be". If that answer is no, then ask "what could I do to engage the player into the game more".

I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell the story you want to tell. I'm saying maybe that story could be told in a little different way that could engage the player more. Or you can even question if you even need the story at all to accomplish what you want to accomplish in the game.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby Mortze » Sat, 16Jul02 16:50

TheGreatJoeGargery wrote:I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell the story you want to tell. I'm saying maybe that story could be told in a little different way that could engage the player more. Or you can even question if you even need the story at all to accomplish what you want to accomplish in the game.


Ok, Joe,

Do I even need the story at all? In my personal case I sure do. My first intention is to tell a particular story. In the case of Pandora my initial goal was to make a comic out of it, so making it a game with player's engagement was a big change towards what you expect.
Is thre room for more engagement from the player? Well, yes, but any more of that will result in less of something else, either be less story, or less quick releasing of the game. See, the more you add to a game, for player's engagement, the more work you have to do.
Mass Effect, and other examples of games I've read here so far are made by more than one single person. There is a team behind it, there is a big structure and investment. And even there they don't decide to do and release a game in 6 months. And those games cost money to the consumer too, who buy them quite coslty.
So, at the risk of sounding cocky, and here I must take side with Tlaero arguments, critics should step back and realise that these kind of free games are made by sole guys or very small partnerships, before giving any insight. Because of that, the creator has to focus on a limited number of factors, mostly those he feels confortable at; either art, script, code, or gameplay design.

Your contribution is welcome, don't get me wrong, but it isn't new. Many people, before you, have suggested me, and surelly Tlaero and many other creators too, to incorporate more player's engagement in the games. And why some of us don't do that? Simply either because we don't like it, or we don't have time or stamina, or even knowhow, to do it.

But some, if not most, critics fall in good ears. I see in Tlaero's gameplay and scripts incorporations of player's critics and desires. I'm also implementing a few minor changes in Pandora after hearing from the crowd.

I'm in no way arguing you not to give your opinion. I know it is good hearted. What I'm arguing is your premise in this thread that "this type of game can also be good", because, as I said, anything can be good, if it is made with some quality standards and if the consumer is prone to like that type of product in the first place. And there is no argument against that fact.
That's why I said your opinion isn't debatable.
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby LRM » Sat, 16Jul02 17:09

@ Shark;

In my opinion... TheGreatJoeGargery should preface every one of his posts with "In my opinion". His opinion differs with most other posters (not that it matters but mine too is different than his).
Herr Mortze, Lady T, have voiced differing thoughts on his "by God my opinion is the only one that matters" He is more insistent about his slant than are most posters... that does not mean he is correct! Many different authors each provide their own style... thank God they do!

We all have our own thoughts about what makes a good game. You have for the most part followed what you enjoy... PLEASE never bow down to the pressure exerted on you to meet someone else's idea of what they want you to provide. Your internal guidance serves you well, listen to your little voice and to hell with those that scream the loudest about taking your game where they want it to go.

Again we all have our own thoughts about the story line vs the the action. Just because we're extremely vocal about our point of view does not mean we are necessarily the most correct!!!
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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby tlaero » Sat, 16Jul02 17:47

I do make disparaging comments about MeetNFuck games, but I'm talking about the games that are actually called "MeetNFuck." You know, ones where you bump into a librarian with beachball sized breasts, say 3 things to her, and suddenly she's stripped naked in public. But now you have to touch her forearm and then her calf and then her cheek before you can touch her breast (but not her nipple), because we all know, a woman who strips for you after you said 3 inane things has standards. And then you have slow, medium, fast, faster sex in 3 positions, and the game is over. I find these games degrading and I find them an affront to my efforts as a game developer. To be abundantly clear, Date Ariane is NOT a MeetNFuck game (the way I'm using the term). Similarly, nothing Chaotic has ever done was a "MeetNFuck" game.

Also, to clarify my original feedback to Chaotic, I've been struggling with every one of my games to make something that wasn't "Meet a girl, say nice things to her, and have sex." I don't think I achieved that until Redemption for Jessika (okay, maybe Life with Keely, but that's different). Saying that Chaotic was heading in that direction was meant as high praise, not as a dig against his earlier games.

As for the question about whether I'd play Mass Effect where you skip the combat and just do the conversation scenes, I've read around 6 Mass Effect novels and a whole slew of Mass Effect comic books. So, effectively, I already have. And I searched out and read those things because I was so invested in the story, not because I liked the agency of deciding which order to do the missions in. Also, I am not one of the people who complained about the ending of Mass Effect 3. All the choices you made DID pay off. It happened in the scene on earth the night before the last battle, where you went and talked to everyone and saw what you had done to affect their lives. Powerful stuff. I assume the complainers didn't bother talking to anyone in that scene and rushed through to get back into the action.

As for the suggestion that someone should use the Ariane mechanic of multiple personality traits and you needing to balance them to succeed, Redemption for Jessika does that (and I got the idea from Ariane).

I disagree with Mortze that you need to be a game developer before you can give insight, but I still encourage people to make their own games. If someone can tell a compelling story, with actual player agency, in less than 10 years time, I want to play that game. And while, "It would be great if you did this" is somewhat useful feedback, much MORE useful feedback is, "When I tried to do this, I ran into these problems, so I solved them this way, but that left me with this issue. What do you think we could do to fix it?" Dealing with tradeoffs is harder than people understand, and people who have done it can give better insight than people who haven't. But, all that aside, I've really encouraged you to make your own games because, if you do them well, you'll get other people to make games the way you like, which will result in more games for you to play.

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Re: Is the Story the Central Part of A Good Game?

Postby Mortze » Sat, 16Jul02 17:59

tlaero wrote:I disagree with Mortze that you need to be a game developer before you can give insight, but I still encourage people to make their own games.

I don't think I actually said that. I meant that before giving insight one must stop and think what it is to be a sole developer, who works mostly alone. In big games entreprises, unless you are a genius, there is a team working toghether, and brainstorming tends to filter good from bad ideas.

tlaero wrote:Also, I am not one of the people who complained about the ending of Mass Effect 3

Neither am I. I think that, when I finished the game, my room was particularly, and for no logical reason, really dusty, so my eyes had to humidify a little. Bioware did win by me for dehidrating me. It was a surprising feel, better than "Yay, Shepperd is a big hero, let's have feast with him presiding as the new king" which is dull.
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